How to Catch a Polar Bear

Nick, Ace, and Penny are looking forward to the best summer ever at the zoo! Paper routes, polar bears, frozen custard–and lots and lots of monkeys–are just a hint of what’s in store, in this funny middle-grade novel set in 1948 Milwaukee.


“Wonderfully imaginative with just a touch of earnestness.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Funny and heartwarming.” — Booklist

“Simply delightful, treat yourself to How to Catch a Polar Bear (and some frozen custard) this summer!” — Staff Pick, Boswell Books, Milwaukee

“This hilarious historical novel is the perfect summer read.” — Staff Pick, Parnassus Books, Nashville

Behind the Scenes

Many bits and pieces of How to Catch a Polar Bear are based on true events:

  • There was once a real-life broadcast from the zoo in Milwaukee. It was a TV broadcast (not radio, as in the book), and it took place right on Monkey Island! (And here’s the funniest part: I found this old footage after I wrote about a radio broadcast from the zoo.) Here’s a link to a very short video of that TV broadcast. (Video is from the WTMJ Newsfilm Collection, courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Libraries, WTMJ, and the Wisconsin Historical Society.)
  • Here’s another video, of a paperboy delivering newspapers on his bicycle sometime in the 1950s. Pay close attention at around 0:35 on the video. Can you see that newspaper curve around the porch post and onto the porch? Pretty impressive! (Video courtesy of David Hoffman)

On the Air and in Print:

  • The Week Junior (March 1, 2024 issue) celebrates Read Across America Day with this list of “50 Books for 50 States” — Nick and friends are proud to represent Wisconsin!
  • Listen to a conversation about the real-life events behind the book on WUWM, Milwaukee’s NPR station.
  • Watch and listen to me reading a chapter from How to Catch a Polar Bear on YouTube.